I’m getting ready to start my whirlwind week of test-driving
fancy sports cars jacquard looms. This afternoon I’m driving down to Atascadero, to spend Saturday and Sunday studying jacquard design with Sandra Rude. I’ll drive home Sunday evening. Monday morning I’m leaving at dawn to drive to Chico, where I’ll spend two days test-driving their AVL Jacq3G. Tuesday evening I drive home, and then Wednesday morning I fly out to Providence, Rhode Island, to spend three days test-driving Digital Weaving Norway’s TC-2 jacquard loom. I’ll fly home on Sunday the 20th, after ten days of immersion in jacquard weaving.
Why am I going hog-wild on testing jacquard looms now, even though I won’t be able to afford one for at least another 18-24 months? Well, it’s because I got an offer I couldn’t refuse. Vibeke Vestby offered to teach me how to use the TC-2, and let me weave on their demo model, at Convergence. Since Digital Weaving Norway is in, well, Norway, this is my best chance for the next two years to get a thorough test-drive on the TC-2 jacquard loom.
And since it seems best to compare the looms at the same time, I’m testing the AVL Jacq3G the same week. While I won’t make a final-final decision until the time comes to write a check, I’ll likely figure out my preference this week.
Most of what I’m weaving will likely be just bits and pieces of test files, but on the off chance that I do have time to weave more, I’ve come up with three images to try weaving. The first one, which I will try weaving while studying with Sandra Rude, is a photo taken by Lieven, my critique partner:
This is the Poison Ivy character, who appears as a supervillain in the Batman comics. (Lieven does mostly cosplay photography – cosplay being the art of costuming oneself as a movie, comic, etc. character.)
This photo of Poison Ivy is a good test case because it has a limited color palette, making it more suitable for a woven piece with just a few weft colors. Sandra has a wide collection of colors in 20/2 cotton, but just in case of a mismatch, I’m dyeing up eight colors of 30/2 silk this morning. (30/2 silk and 20/2 cotton are roughly the same size.) Yes, that’s leaving it to the very last minute – the silk will probably not be dry by the time I leave for Sandra’s – but since I only decided on this photo yesterday, well, this morning is all I have. But I am pretty sure they will be done by the time I leave for work.
Next up on the plate is one of Mike’s photos of the cats. In this corner there are two contenders, both photos of Sweetheart:
The advantage of the first photo is that it has just a few colors, and could actually probably be rendered in black and white. This makes it a much faster weave. (I am tempted, though, to do the pupils in retro-reflective yarn. Hmm…) The second photo is just a really nice photo of my thoroughly beloved Sweetheart, and it has a limited enough color palette that it should be feasible as well.
I doubt I’ll have enough time to weave both images while at Sandra’s, so I might try the almost-black-and-white image while at AVL.
My AVL test image will be one of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes comic strips:
This is a fairly short image, which is good because AVL’s floor model of the Jacq3G has only 600 hooks (as opposed to Sandra’s 1400-odd). So I will weave it sideways. It’s also black and white, making it a fast, one-shuttle weave. This is important because I will only have two days at AVL, and one of them will be spent setting up the loom. (That was deliberate; I want to know what threading the Jacq3G is like.)
I haven’t yet worked out test images for the TC-2. The loom at Convergence will be warped with a medium gray, 20/2 cotton warp at 60 ends per inch, 880 ends (14.5 inches wide). That is suitable either for double plain weave or for anything with a sett of 60 or below, which is virtually anything you’d want to weave with 20/2 cotton as a single layer. I have no idea what to weave on that warp – perhaps some more comic strips? In any case, I have four or five days to work that out, so I’m not too worried about finding something. I can always just weave test patterns – in fact, that might be a really good idea.
And, in satellite-land, I’m pleased to announce that SkySat-2 has gone through its commissioning phase and reached First Light (the first releasable photo) in record time – less than 48 hours! Here are the first two photos, released yesterday:
You can download the full-size images (which are glorious but quite large) here, and read the Skybox blog about it here. It’s truly amazing what our little SkySats can do, and I’m quite proud to be working with such a stellar team and for such an awesome company.
Meanwhile, what about the cats? Well, they’re nowhere in sight right now. But sometimes you see a cat, and sometimes you just know where a cat’s been:
(Unfortunately, the location of the toilet paper roll makes it difficult to hang it “under”, the most obvious way of solving the problem. (The human can’t reach it either.) We’re investigating toilet paper armor, to foil future feline festivities.)